Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Friday, November 30, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Melvin's 2X4 Double IPA

By Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday!  This might be my last one for a few weeks due to upcoming knee surgery, but it certainly won't be my last post ever.  This week's feature is the 2X4 DIPA from Melvin Brewing out of Alpine, Wyoming.  I found a selection of their beers last weekend in Florida at a Total Wine store.  Apparently Total Wine in Florida contracted with Melvin a large enough order to make a one-time distribution to the state.  A pretty good idea if you ask me, if the demand is there for a certain brewery and that brewery can meet the supply, why not make a special order?  

Melvin Brewing started off as a nanobrewery in the back of a Thai restaurant and has grown into a powerhouse in the NW part of our country.  The 2X4 DIPA, which won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012 to really put Melvin Brewing on the map nationally.  It's a 10% ABV, 100+ IBU beer loaded with American hops such as Columbus, Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe.

Melvin Brewing's 2X4 DIPA

The first thing I notice is the slight haze to the pour.  This is certainly not brewed in the NEIPA style, but it's not filtered clear either.  It's a little on the copper/orange side for color, with as you can see a prominent frothy head.  The aroma is pure hop joy, with pine notes coming through strong as well as citrus.  It's an excellent blend of hops, with multiple layers of flavor shining through, and that extends to the taste as well.  The malts are there, but they lay low and allow the hops to shine through, with even more pine and citrus flavors bursting through every sip.  This is a phenomenal DIPA, and I feel like it really serves as a bridge between the old school malty IBU heavy double IPAs and the trendy hazy NEIPAs.  This beer really allows the hops to shine through without making them the only performer in the show.

I know this one won't be easy to find around Baton Rouge, but if you do see some or get the chance to try it, don't pass it up.  Cheers! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and a happy last (regular season) LSU football gameday to you all!  Not too long ago I saw a post on social media about the old fashioned cocktails at Mouton at White Star Market being fantastic and being made with Old Forester, so when I saw some Old Forester on the shelf when out running errands last weekend I decided it was a good time to grab some and give it a try. 

Old Forester has been around since 1870 and makes the claim to be the first ever bottled bourbon.  It's distilled in Louisville, Kentucky and is owned by Brown-Forman, one of the largest American companies in the alcoholic beverage industry.  Among their brands are Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Coopers' Craft, Korbel, and many more throughout the industry.  The company started in Louisville with the Old Forester label and obviously has grown significantly since then. 

Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Bourbon

This particular whiskey is the Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  It's the base expression of Old Forester bourbon, and as usual I gave it a first try neat.  The aroma is pretty strong, a burn stronger than expected for 86 proof with notes of oak, vanilla, and a floral character.  The taste is sharp as well, with a noticeable alcohol burn and a good bit of sweet corn flavor to go with the oak.  Honestly, I'm not a fan of this one as a neat sipper.  

After a glass of Old Forester neat, I checked on what I had on hand to make a cocktail and gave it a bastardized attempt at an old fashioned, with some cherries and simple syrup.  As a cocktail bourbon, this definitely comes closer to hitting the mark, the strong flavors come through but blend well with the rest of the cocktail to give a distinct bourbon flavor without being lost in the mix.

With that, the regular season editions of #wakeywhiskey is over, so let's all hope for an LSU win tonight, and look forward to some holiday and bowl game wakey whiskeys in the near future!  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Gnarly Barley's Lion Up Wheat Ale

By Eric Ducote

Happy Black Friday to you all!  I sure hope everyone reading this is enjoying some quality time with friends and family and not fighting the crowds for the deals.  Or if you are out there shopping, maybe hit up some local small businesses.  Regardless, you're not going to find me joining in on the shopping madness!  For this week's offering I dug into the beer fridge to find something that was worthy of FBF praise, and found a can of Lion Up from Gnarly Barley Brewing.  

Gnarly Barley is no stranger to this space, and for good reason.  They put out some of the best beers in the state and the taproom is always a great spot to visit.  Co-owners Zac and Cari Caramonta are usually there hanging out and similarly to how LSU and Tin Roof put out the licensed Bayou Bengal, Gnarly Barley partnered with Southeastern Louisiana University to put out the licensed Lion Up.  It makes perfect sense with Gnarly Barley being located in Hammond and both Caramontas being alumni.  Lion Up is brewed with football season in mind, and although it's been cooler and dreary lately, most of football season in south Louisiana is on the warmer side, so this American Wheat Ale is brewed with late Summer and Fall in mind. 

Gnarly Barley's Lion Up Wheat Ale

The beer pours a deep yellow color, some haze from the heavy wheat bill, and a bubbly champagne-esque white head.  The aroma is very floral with some sweet notes from the malt underlying the Cascade and Amarillo hops.  The taste is clean and refreshing, with the hops holding up well to the wheat and barley base, giving the beer an excellent blend of sweet and bitter and packing plenty of flavor into the 4.5% abv.  The result is exactly what they describe it as, "an easy drinking beer, great for football season!" I could definitely see plenty of these making it into my cooler next year, unless the Tigers are playing the Lions again.

Cheers everyone, and I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Blade And Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's already the last home game of LSU's season, which has seemed to fly by.  I know this space is primarily for whiskey talk, but I've been really surprised by the success this season.  Obviously losing to Florida and Alabama hurts, but assuming nothing insane happens this weekend LSU football will be a 9 win team with a shot at 10-2 and a new year's day bowl game.  That's far better than I expected going into this season. 

Enough football talk though, how about the whiskey?  Today's selection is the Blade And Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery.  It's created using a unique "solera" aging process where older whiskey is bottled without draining each barrel, and then the barrels are topped off with the next oldest, which are then topped off with the next oldest, etc., until freshly distilled whiskey is put into oak barrels at the top of the pyramid.  Blade And Bow is released as both a "straight" bourbon and as a 22-year old vintage.  The Bite and Booze crew was sent a sample of the straight bourbon, so... time to give it a try.  

Blade And Bow Straight Kentucky Bourbon

The whiskey pours an amber to brown color, "straight" means it has been aged for at least two years but the solera process means that a lot of the whiskey in the sample could be years older, apparently the oldest barrels in the solera go back to 1992!  The aroma is ripe with oak and vanilla, a hint of plum sweetness, and a bit of spice that makes me think about rye although I'm pretty confident this is a more heavily wheated bourbon.  The burn is minimal, and the aroma is overall very pleasant and inviting.  The taste is an excellent follow through on the pleasant aroma, with notes of fruit, oak, vanilla, honey, and some cinnamon spice as well.  The finish is smooth, and makes this Blade And Bow an excellent neat sip.  

I'd never heard of this brand before, but after giving it a try and learning more about their story, I'd be confident picking up a bottle if I see one out in stores.  And if I ever saw the 22-year, it would be headed straight into my cart.  Cheers!  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof Veterans Voodoo Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of Feature Beer Friday here at Bite And Booze.  This past Sunday was Veterans Day with the observed holiday falling on this past Monday, so a quick thank you to everyone out there who has served or is serving our country!  In honor of Veterans Day, Tin Roof Brewing (a FBF regular) released a special Veterans Voodoo.  The Veterans Voodoo is the same water/malt/yeast as the regular gold-medal winning Voodoo, but it's hopped with a special Veterans blend of hops from Yakima Chief hops.  

Yakima Chief is donating $3 per pound of the hop blend sold in 2018 to the Semper Fi fund, so Tin Roof buying enough for a full batch of Veterans Voodoo certainly put a good chunk of money into the fund.  The hop blend was selected by veteran-owned breweries and in 2018 features Cashmere, Centennial, Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Simcoe.  Centennial, Mosaic, and Simcoe are all very popular hops in the brewing world, but I'm not as familiar with the Cashmere and Ekuanot.  Cashmere is noted for flavors of melon, lemon, and lime, with a moderate bitterness, and Ekuanot is expected to give off flavors of melon, lemon, apple, papaya, and even green pepper.  

Tin Roof's Veterans Voodoo

I swung by to try this one, and of course brought a crowler home for further research.  The color is the same hazy golden color as regular voodoo, with a frothy white head.  The aroma on this special version is fantastic, with tropical fruit, pine, and citrus all working together extremely well to create an inviting bouquet of hops.  The flavor is delicious as well, with the hops really working well together and the standard malt profile that lets the hops dominate.  The smooth mouthfeel and finish is unchanged, only the hop profile, and I think this hop blend creates a pale ale that's on par with the original.  

A full batch was brewed, and is available on tap and in crowlers in the Tin Roof taproom for a limited time.  There will certainly be plenty left when this drops on Friday morning, but it won't be there forever, so go give it a try.  Cheers! 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Angel's Envy Port Finish

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's time for another wakey whiskey, as despite the disappointing loss last week, LSU football is back at it again today, with a lot still on the line.  They still have a good shot at finishing 10-2, playing in a New Year's bowl game, and there's still an outside (very outside) shot at sneaking back into the playoffs.  Now I'm not holding my breath for that playoff shot, but even still it's safe to say the 2018 LSU football season has so far exceeded my expectations.  

For this week's #wakeywhiskey selection I figured I'd check out some of the Bite and Booze samples I've been sitting on.  I had heard of Angel's Envy before, but I don't ever recall trying some, so this is as good of a time as ever, right?  Angel's Envy spirits are made by Louisville Distilling Company, which recently opened a new distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  This sample, however, was produced in nearby Bardstown, KY. It's aged on average 6 years in fresh charred oak barrels in the bourbon tradition, then finished for 3 to 6 months in French oak port barrels from Portugal.  This additional finishing violates the rules that would allow this to be called a bourbon, but for all intents and purposes it's practically a bourbon.  

Angel's Envy Port Finish

The pour is a copper color, I wasn't really sure if I should expect a little red from the port barrels, but this could be the result of a golden bourbon with a tinge of red port.  The aroma is mostly vanilla and oak, like a bourbon should be, but also some hints of grapes or raisins from the port aging.  The taste is smooth, with slight fruity notes interacting with the char and vanilla from the oak aging, a hint of honey, and incredibly easy to sip neat at room temperature.  The finish is smooth as well, with a hint of sweetness from the port at the end.

I enjoyed this take on bourbon, but I don't know that I'd be running out to buy some more at a ballpark of $50 for a 750ml bottle.  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Port Orleans' GL37SON IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday!  This week I'm checking out the GL37SON IPA (as in Steve Gleason, former New Orleans Saint) from Port Orleans Brewing, which is co-owned by former New Orleans Saint Zach Strief.  I've mentioned Port Orleans Brewing before in my post about the New Orleans Beer Tour, but this is the first time I've picked some up in retail packaging. 

The GL37SON IPA is brewed in honor of former Saint Steve Gleason, who has become a famous advocate for people living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.  It's a standard strength IPA, at 5.8% volume and dry-hopped with around 5 pounds per barrel of Mosaic, Azacca, and Lemondrop hops.  The IPA is served hazy in the New England style, and a portion of the sales of each beer go to Team Gleason for care for people suffering from ALS.

Port Orleans' GL37SON IPA

The beer pours a hazy yellow-gold color with a frothy white head, exactly as expected for the style.  The nose is boldly citrus with faint hints of a little resin in there underneath the strong orange and lemon citrus aroma.  The taste is more of the same, with an underlying malt sweetness that gets easily overpowered by the dry hopping.  The finish is clean, with lingering citrus leaving me wanting more.  

Regardless of the good cause, this is another easy drinking hoppy option for Louisiana drinkers looking for citrus hop flavors.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy some more.  Cheers!    

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Wakey Whisky: Nomad Outland Whisky

By Eric Ducote

Good morning to all you Tiger fans on this beautiful gameday as the Tigers take on the hated team from Alabama.  Last season I tried to get a little superstitious for the Alabama game and try for a whisky that I went into with low expectations, and yeah, LSU lost.  This year I don't have low expectations for this game.  I don't necessarily have high expectations either though, I have no idea how this is going to play out!  (I know that's always true to some degree, but sometimes you just get a feeling...)  So I picked out a whisky (without the 'e' in this case) that I had never tried before and, just like tonight's game, went into it without any expectations.  

Nomad Outland Whisky

For this task, I found a bottle of Nomad Outland Whisky.  It's not technically a scotch, but it's born in Scotland, so they spell whiskey without the 'e' in the Scottish style.  It's a collaboration between master scotch distiller from The Dalmore Richard Paterson (nicknamed "The Nose") and master distiller Antonio Flores of Gonzalez Byass sherry producers in Jerez, Spain.  The whisky starts as a blend of 5 to 8 year old scotch whiskies before being aged for another 3 years in sherry casks, then transferred to Spain for another year of aging in Pedro Ximenez casks.  So this is a minimum of 9 years in the barrel, but probably averaging at least 10.  It's bottled in Spain (hence it's labeled as 'Outland Whisky' rather than scotch) at 82.6 proof.  Now on to the spirit... 

The color is a clear amber, very appealing in the bottle and in the glass.  The nose is potent with oak, a little peat, and definite fruity sherry notes.  The taste is smooth and complex, with peat notes, sweet malt, vanilla from the oak, raisin and plum flavors, all blended together expertly.  The finish is more fruit notes and this one goes down easy.  I didn't have any expectations going into this pour, but it's honestly one of the best whiskies I've tried in a while.  It's a multi-faceted complex and delicious spirit, and if the Tigers can exceed expectations tonight the same way this "Outland Whisky" did, then we're in for a great game.

Geaux Tigers!  (And be sure to look for Jay and the Bite and Booze team on today's College Gameday on ESPN!) 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Founders 2017 Kentucky Breakfast Stout

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone on this Gameday eve, and welcome to another edition of Feature Beer Friday!  Today I'm headed up to Michigan, in the figurative sense, to try the 2017 version of the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  Founders Brewing has been around in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1997, making it pretty old and established in the world of craft beer.  Technically Founders is no longer considered a 'craft' brewery as they are 30% owned by San Miguel's parent company, but in my opinion that's a far cry from the breweries that have sold out 100% to AB-Inbev.  

One of Founders' most successful and popular beers is the subject of this review, the Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  It's a big imperial stout brewed with a lot of coffee (hence the 'breakfast' in the name) and chocolate.  It's then aged for a year in bourbon barrels before being released once annually each spring.  It can be found on tap, in 12 ounce 4-packs, and in 750ml bottles.  The bottle I have today is a 12 ounce bottle from the 2017 release, so at this point it's getting close to 2 years in the cellar.

Founders 2017 Kentucky Breakfast Stout

The pour is dark rich brown, almost black, with a couple of fingers' worth of frothy tan head.  The aroma is strong with bourbon and coffee, with a bit of roasted malt bitterness.  The taste is smooth, especially considering this beer is just over 12% alcohol, with more coffee and bourbon notes but also some sweet tones from the chocolate and still a hint of bitter roasted malt.  The mouthfeel is silky smooth, this is a dangerously easy drinker, and I think I'm going to have to stop after one and switch things up!  This still reigns supreme as one of the best barrel-aged imperial stouts in the world, so this Spring, if you see some of the 2019 release on the shelves, make a purchase.  Cheers!   

Friday, October 26, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  Today's Feature Beer is the perfect option for a morning beer, the Beer Geek Brunch Big Blend from Mikkeller.  The name is a mashup of the two founders' names, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, and Kristian Klarup Keller, who started as homebrewers in Denmark before launching Mikkeller and becoming one of the pioneers of gypsy brewing.  Gypsy brewing is a concept where the brewing company doesn't own a physical brewery, but instead uses other breweries for production when space is available and also collaborating with various breweries.  

Mikkeller's first huge beer hit was Beer Geek Breakfast which was an imperial stout with coffee that has been brewed many times since, but most of their beers are one-off special releases and variants.  Since starting the Mikkeller brand has established new locations worldwide, primarily bars but some like in New York City have brewing facilities attached.  This particular beer is one that I found locally at Robert Fresh Market on Highland Rd., the Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend.  The original Beer Geek Brunch was also an imperial oatmeal stout with even more expensive coffee, but this one is a special version that's blended from six different aging barrels.  It's a combination of beer aged in bourbon, cherry wine, cognac, tequila, brandy, and whiskey.  I know, bourbon IS whiskey, but I don't know exactly what type the second one is, but I'm guessing that it's a scotch as they released a version of Beer Geek Brunch that was labeled as "Islay Edition" and a version of Beer Geek Breakfast labeled as a "Speyside Edition" so maybe they just got the spelling of whisky associated with scotch wrong?  Enough wondering though, how's the beer? 

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

As you can see, the head is massive on this one, with an excess of carbonation.  Other reviewers had the same issue, so this isn't just a localized storage problem, but a full batch problem.  Hopefully though, it's not infected and the flavors are still intact.  Past that, the beer itself is a rich dark brown as expected from this 8% stout.  The nose is rich, with all the various barrel agings coming through but none as strong as the coffee from the base beer.  The bourbon is probably the strongest barrel on the aroma, but there's also a definite fruitiness from the cognac, brandy, and wine.  On the taste there's a hint of tequila, but it's the least present barrel flavor, and again the coffee and bourbon are coming through the strongest.

All in all, a very interesting beer, but if anything there is too much going on.  It's absolutely worth a try, but be ready for some heavy carbonation and a multi-pronged assault on the taste buds.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans!  If I was a superstitious fan I'd be going straight back to some JPS 21-Year Rye after LSU laid the smack down on #2 UGA last week, but I'm not superstitious and I don't really believe that my whiskey choices have any impact on a football game.  That said, it's always been a fun tradition that started in my tailgating days to start off a big day with a wakey whiskey.  That tradition has evolved past tailgating into all game days, and even birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other special events.  If it's a cause for celebration, it's a cause for some wakey whiskey!

With that noted, I'm of course going to feature a new whiskey today, as you're here to read about the beverage and it would be boring to write about the same one every time LSU wins, right? There's only so much I could have said about the Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye whiskey that I started off the season with, and you would have had 5 weeks of that one!  So this week, an Irish Whiskey with a twist, the Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition.  This one starts out as a standard batch of Jameson Irish Whiskey, and then is aged further in barrels that were used to age an Irish craft-brewed stout.  

Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whiskey

The color is basically the same as regular Jameson, golden with hints of orange.   The nose is smooth, with hints of honeysuckle, mineral water, and a hint of fruit.  There's a minimal 'burn' on this whiskey, as it's triple distilled in the Irish tradition and bottled at 80 proof.  The result is an extremely smooth sipping whiskey, with a hint of chocolate malt notes on the taste combined with the fruit and honey flavors of the base whiskey.  It finishes easy with another little hint of chocolate.

Overall, I really enjoy this whiskey, although I don't know that I really get much 'stout' out of it.  I think it would have been even better with more time in those beer barrels, but I also feel like it's a lot harder to impart the beer flavors into a whiskey than it is to pull whiskey flavors into a beer.  I admire the creativity to mix up the process, and at a reasonable price around $30, it's not a bad buy.  I'm going to have to try the IPA edition next, as I feel like hop flavors might work even better.  Until then, cheers, and GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Crown Valley's Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's finally starting to feel like Fall for more than a day at a time, and as everyone knows, Fall means pumpkin EVERYTHING.  Beer has never been an exception to this trend, as pumpkin beers have been popping up ever since craft beer started its renaissance.  Generally I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin beers, but most are lighter styles with bland pumpkin seasonings... not the case with this offering from Crown Valley.

Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling is located in rural southeast Missouri, in an area known primarily for wineries.  They produce a range of flagship beers and ciders, in addition to seasonal and high abv beers.  I very rarely see their flagship beers in our market, but occasionally spot the ciders and every year their Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout hits shelves.  This beer is a high-abv imperial stout base, with 10.6% alcohol and 48 IBU.  It's loaded with rich dark malts and balanced out with some noble hops as well as Chinook which is known for a piney character.  

Crown Valley's Imperial Pumpkin Smash

The beer (a fresh 2018 version) pours a dark chocolate color, as an imperial stout should, with a lighter than expected head but great retention.  The nose is a combination of bitter roasted coffee notes, sweeter chocolate malt notes, and an undeniable pumpkin flavor blended with the spices always associated with pumpkin desserts.  The taste is a beautiful follow through on the nose, with complex malt flavors that work extremely well with the pumpkin and spice.  My favorite thing about this beer is that it still tastes like an imperial stout with pumpkin on top rather than it tasting like I'm drinking a glass of pumpkin pie.  

This remains one of my favorite pumpkin beers alongside the Saint Arnold Pumpkinator, and I'll almost certainly be buying some more before the season is over.  Cheers! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome back to Wakey Whiskey here at Bite And Booze.  Last week I broke out one of my "bigger" whiskeys in anticipation of a big matchup with Florida, and this week is an even bigger matchup with Georgia even if the loss last week takes off a smidge of luster.  The truth is, LSU's still almost as in control of their own destiny as possible, just without any more margin for error.  Now, I'm not booking my hotel rooms for the championship just yet, but it's still in play, right?  

This week I'm sticking with the Jefferson's line of whiskey, but instead of the 21-year bourbon like I finished off last week, this is the 21-year rye.  There's something fun about drinking a whiskey that's old enough to drink, and I've always been a big fan of rye whiskeys in general, as I find that they tend to be a little more complex than one with a primarily corn grain bill.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

The pour is a dark brown with hints of red, a similar color (as expected) to the 21-year bourbon.  The nose has strong notes of caramel and licorice, with a bit of cinnamon spice.  It's sweet, with a bit of a burn for the 90.4 proof whiskey but the licorice is a bit surprising to me.  The taste is strong with oak, cinnamon, caramel, with the licorice fading and a hint of vanilla coming out.  There's a bit of a burn on the back end, but as a whole it's a very smooth drink of rye, that I like a little more than last week's bourbon.  

Unfortunately this one, like last week's bourbon, is going to be almost impossible to find out in the wild, but the good news is that I still have some left, so if anyone wants to bring a few bottles over to share, I'll be happy to share some of this with you!

Cheers!  And GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: St. Bernardus's Abt 12 Quad

By Eric Ducote

Good morning and welcome back to Feature Beer Friday!  I've been featuring a lot of local beers recently, which I'm not ashamed of at all because there are plenty worth featuring, but today I'm headed across the pond to Belgium.  Belgium has always been one of the world leaders when it comes to beer due to their distinctive Belgian-styled ales.  The small country is littered with small breweries (often associated with monasteries) putting out excellent beers.  Belgian ales were really one of my first introductions to the world past macro lagers, as even before the craft scene blew up in Louisiana these options were readily available. One excellent example of a non-Trappist Belgian brewery is St. Bernardus, known for a wide range of styles and their distinctive Witbier.  Today's offering though, is their Abt 12, one of their three "core" beers and the strongest of the bunch. 

St. Bernardus Abt 12

This beer is a 10% abv Belgian-style Quad, which is sometimes referred to as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  Typically Belgian ales start at their enkel or "single" which is the lightest offering and usually drank by the monks themselves. After that is a dubbel which is a little stronger and darker, the tripel which is stronger still although typically lighter in color and more floral, and the quadrupel which is dark like the dubbel and even stronger.  The Abt 12 is one of the most popular and well regarded versions of the quadrupel style.  

The beer pours a brown color reminiscent of a coca cola with a very bubbly off-white head. The aroma is fruity, dominated mostly by sweeter plum flavors but also some grape and a little bit of floral hoppiness.   It's extremely pleasing and inviting, and I can't wait to get in a sip.  The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I remember from my early days of beer appreciation, but the flavors are still full and complex, with some rock candy sweetness, fruity esters from the yeast, and a floral bitter balance from the hops.  This was a fresh bottle of Abt 12, but I'd imagine the sweet and fruity flavors would be enhanced with age while the hoppy notes fade.  This beer has earned a reputation as one of the best in the world, and it does not disappoint.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 should be pretty easy to find around Baton Rouge, either in a corked & caged 750 ml bottle, a 4-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles, or in a gift set along with the dubbel, tripel and a glass like you see pictured above.  I know it's "on trend" to fill the beer fridge with all hazy IPA these days, but here's an outstanding chance of pace.  Cheers! 


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and happy GAMEDAY to you all!  This afternoon the Fighting Tigers of LSU are taking on the hated Florida Gators, so I figured that called for stepping up my whiskey game a bit.  I've had this bottle of Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-year for quite some time, as it officially released on April 1, 2013.  Unfortunately I'm getting down to the very end, so I had to make sure I gave it the full wakey whiskey honors before my bottle is dry.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select (named after Thomas Jefferson) is produced by Jefferson's Bourbon, which is owned by Castle Brands along with a few names you might recognize in the Irish Whiskey world like Knappogue Castle and Clontarf.  The first two editions of Presidential Select were the 17-year and the 18-year, but they were made from a wheated whiskey that was distilled at Stitzel-Weller of Pappy Van Winkle fame.  The Presidential Select 17-Year actually won the whiskeys of the world tournament that Jay and I hosted (along with James Lawson and Jeremy Spikes) back when we were producing the Raise A Glass radio show, and the 18-Year offering has been featured on Bite and Booze before in a Whiskey Wednesday post.  This 21-Year offering was not distilled by Stitzel-Weller though, and it has no wheat in the grain bill, so the flavor profile is definitely expected to be different.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

The pour is dark as a 21-Year bourbon should be, the barrels selected for this batch ranged from 21 to 24 years old, and that's a lot of time for that liquor to soak in and out of the wood and absorb that char and the flavors.  The nose is strong with oak notes, again to be expected from a 21-Year bourbon, but there are also notes of leather and a hint of citrus.  Mostly though, the oak and associated char flavors stand out.  The taste is smooth, the oakiness is still bold, and vanilla comes through as well, the citrus is still there in a very small amount creating a well rounded profile.  

The finish is smooth as well, with minimal alcohol burn and a still dominant flavor of oak.  There's a subtle cinnamon spice throughout, perhaps some rye went into the grain bill in place of the wheat?  i don't think this is quite as impressive as the 17 and 18-Year batches, but it's still a magnificent bourbon.  

With that said, Cheers!  And Geaux Tigers! 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Parish's Pure Tropics IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday here at Bite and Booze.  This week I'm going to take a look at one of the recent hoppy releases from Parish Brewing out of Broussard, Louisiana.  Those that read this space regularly, and most of you in the South Louisiana area are certainly already familiar with Parish, so I'll dive right into the beer review!  

Parish Brewing's Pure Tropics IPA

This particular beer is the Pure Tropics IPA.  It's a 7% abv brewed with an IPA base recipe then conditioned on mango, pineapple, and pink guava puree.  Sounds amazing to me!  

The pour is effervescent, with a golden orange color that absolutely fits in with the NEIPA style and the tropical notes to the beer.  The aroma is a beautiful blend of hoppy flavors and tropical fruit, with the mango coming through strongest in my opinion, although I'm not all that familiar with the pink guava fruit.  Pineapple is a flavor that tends to dominate any drink, which is why it was always a key ingredient to the jungle juice back in my college days, but it's well blended here and doesn't take over the beer entirely.  Each sip is fantastic, with the hoppy citrus notes married with the fruit flavors in a harmonious relationship.  

Parish has another great offering with this round of Pure Tropics, and I'm pretty sure there is still plenty to be found out and about in town, so if you see a 4-pack, buy with confidence.  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another #Gameday edition of #WakeyWhiskey as LSU takes on (Go To Hell) Ole Miss late tonight and maybe into tomorrow morning.  A few days ago I was looking through my liquor collection and looking through some previous wakey whiskey posts and realized that I've never featured this Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon.  I've had this bottle for years, I believe it was actually a Christmas present from Jay, but due to its large size and unusual shape it always ended up on the "top shelf" of the liquor cabinet and rarely found its way down.  Rather than keep that trend continuing I decided to pull the bottle down and make it this week's featured whiskey.

Willet Pot Still Reserve is produced by the Willett Distillery, which is also known as the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.  It's still an independent distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, and in addition to the Willett brand they produce Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Pure Kentucky, and more labels.  The bottle that I have is actually a 1.75l bottle styled after a pot still, and is a single barrel version of the Pot Still Reserve.  Around 2015 Willett switched from a single barrel labeling to a small batch labeling, but like I said, this is one of the older bottles in my collection, obviously pre-dating that switch.  It even says on the neck label that this is bottle no. 91 of 117 from single barrel no. 870.  (I think it's 870... the last number is cut off, but it's something round so either 870 or maybe 876... doesn't really matter...)  

Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

Upon pouring and taking the picture, I noticed that the bourbon left in the bottle has a reddish tint to it while the bourbon in my glass is more of a traditional brown.  That's just the light playing tricks though, I can promise it's all the same and I wasn't pouring koolaid back into the bottle.  This is bottled at 94 proof (47% abv) and the aroma is a very pleasant combination of oak, vanilla, and a hint of citrus.  The taste is a smooth note of vanilla, with some charred oak coming through as well as a bit of sweeter caramel, all balanced well by the alcohol.  I think this 94 proof bourbon is right in the sweet spot between the standard 80 proof bourbons and the high proof barrel-strength offerings.  It makes for an interesting complex bourbon without being so strong that it takes away from the flavors.

I know you won't likely be able to find this single barrel version, but if you see some Willett Pot Still Reserve out in the wild, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.  Cheers, and Geaux Tigers! 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof's Voodoo Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Tin Roof's Voodoo Pale Ale
Good morning everyone!  It's Friday, so let's talk a little beer.  Originally I wasn't planning on going back to back with the Tin Roof beers, but that was before the news broke last Saturday that Tin Roof Brewing captured the first ever gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for the state of Louisiana with their Voodoo Pale Ale!  They won in the Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale category, which featured a whopping 132 entrants.  

Voodoo has been around in some form since Tin Roof's beginning, originally labeled as the Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale it was one of the original flagship brews next to the Perfect Tin Amber.  The original recipe was more of a balanced pale ale, with caramel and crystal malts providing a base and plenty of bittering hops throughout.  A few years ago the recipe was changed up completely and the "Bengal" was dropped from the name, giving us the Voodoo Pale Ale and the current look of the cans and tap handles.  Chuck P even wrote a blog post about it! Since then the recipe has undergone a few more tweaks until you have the current iteration of the Voodoo Pale Ale, which can now add GABF Gold Medal winner to its resume.  

The current recipe is even simpler than the interim version, with pale malt serving as the lone base malt and then malted oats, flaked oats, and wheat malt added as specialty grains to give some body and contribute to the haziness.  The hops were reduced to a simple combination of Citra and Simcoe, giving a combination of citrus and tropical fruit flavors from the Citra (duh!) and pine flavors from the Simcoe.  It's a sessionable 5% abv and a palate-pleasing 20 IBU with the vast majority of the hops going in as later additions and dry-hopping.  

I'm sure most of you out there reading this have tried Voodoo and plenty of you likely keep some around in your beer fridge on a regular basis, but if you haven't had one recently, don't hesitate to grab a 6-pack and give it another try.  Winning any sort of medal is a huge deal at GABF, but winning a gold in such a highly contested category should absolutely be celebrated.  

So congrats to Tin Roof, and Cheers! 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and HAPPY GAMEDAY!  LSU takes on Louisiana Tech tonight, and gameday means it's time for another #wakeywhiskey and this morning I'm going to finish off a bottle of Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey.  I've featured Rogue Spirits before with their Dead Guy whiskey, so I won't go too far into the details of the distillery, but I will happily talk about this particular bottle.  It's crafted primarily from rye malt grown in Rogue's own farms, plus two other specialty barley malts that Rogue refers to as their Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malt.  

Very similar to the Longrow scotch I reviewed last week, Rogue controls every step in the process, from the growing of the malts to the bottling of the spirits.  Their barrel aging facility is right on the saltwater in Newport, Oregon, and the Oregon Rye Malt is "ocean aged" for a minimum of three years. It's bottled at 80 proof for 40% alcohol and is available year round in 750ml bottles. 

Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey

The pour is a light amber color, translucent as any spirit should be.  The aroma isn't heavy on the cinnamon notes like some rye whiskeys but instead is very clean with a hint of peach and almonds. The taste is clean and smooth, with the cinnamon spice coming through a little stronger than on the aroma and a grainy bready flavor from the malted barley.  This is an easy drinking very pleasant whiskey that would be a great introduction to rye whiskey for someone looking to try some new spirits.  

That's all for now, happy gameday and #GeauxTigers!       

Friday, September 21, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof's Côte Ouest IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, on this beautiful first day of Fall!  Oh wait, it's still a billion degrees outside, but at least it's football season, right?  And at least cold cooler weather is on the way!  So I've been told, next weekend should finally start to feel a little like Fall, but this weekend is going to feel a little like the surface of the Sun.  

For today's Feature Beer I went back to local brewery Tin Roof for their latest specialty release, the Côte Ouest IPA, brewed in collaboration with Blake Winchell and Bill Childress of Brasseurs A La Maison.  As the name suggests, this is a traditional American IPA in the West coast style as opposed to the trendy New England style that's all the rage right now.  That means more malt balance, more bittering hops, and usually less back end dry hopping.  It also traditionally means a departure from the hazy "juicy" feel of the NE style, although this particular example retained some haziness.  

The Côte Ouest is draft only, but the batch resulted in about 10 barrels of finished product, so expect to see it on tap at the Tin Roof taproom for several more weeks as well.  Since cans weren't available, I grabbed a crowler on my last visit to try later.  First thing though, check out that fancy tap handle!  Apparently Blake didn't even know he was going to be features so prominently until he showed up to the release party, so I guess the joke is on him.  

Tin Roof's Cote Ouest IPA

On to the beer!  First the stats... 7.5% abv which is right at the cut off between IPA and DIPA, and approximately 70 IBU.  The pour is a dark orange-ish color with a bubbly white head and a decent amount of haze.  The hop aroma is still strong but more floral and traditionally bitter rather than citrus.  The taste is strongly bitter, and despite the darker color, there isn't a huge malt presence, rather the Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Amarillo hops come through with a combination of floral and piney bitterness with still a hint of citrus but not an overpowering presence.  All four of those hop varieties are produced in the Pacific NW and are prominent in the American IPA's surge in popularity, so it's great to see them used so generously in this beer.  

This won't be on tap for too long, so if you like hoppy bitterness and are looking for a change of pace and a bit of a throwback, head over to Tin Roof and give this a taste.  Cheers! 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wakey Whisky: Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our first SEC gameday of 2018!  The LSU Tigers face a tough road test today against the War Eagles/Plainsmen/Tigers of Auburn.  I've pretty much always hated Auburn, although they've never been at the top of my SEC hate list, they've always been in contention, in my case back to the cigar smoking on the field days of 1999.  Dick move, Auburn.  Dick. Move.

Now, I have no Alabama whiskey in the collection, so I'm going to have to get a little exotic and break out a new bottle of scotch for this round of #wakeywhisky.  As I'm sure any regular reader knows by now, scotch drops the 'e' from whiskey in their spelling, so this is a bottle of whisky rather than whiskey.  This particular bottle is the Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt, which is a double distilled and highly peated single malt variety. 

Campbeltown is one of the traditional five regions of scotch production, along with Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, and Islay.  Campbeltown is the smallest of the regions with only 3 active distilleries, including the J. & A. Mitchell & Company which independently operates the Springbank distillery which produces the Longrow scotch that I'm drinking today.  This is the only distillery in Scotland that carries out the full process of malting, mashing, fermenting, distilling, aging, and bottling all under one roof.  Very few distilleries malt their own barley, and quite often they outsource the mashing process to brewing facilities.  

Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Okay, so, on to the whisky, this one pours a very light color, which indicates to me that it's not a crazy long aging, or it's possibly a very light char on the barrels that they use. The smell is without a doubt peat heavy but it's not so powerful that it's all I can smell.  There are notes of honey, honeysuckle, smoke, and vanilla, all melded together into a delicious sip of whisky.  The smoke builds as I continue to sip with a bit of a bitter astringent note adding another layer of complexity.  The finish is smoky, peaty, with a definite hint of oak. 

This is really one of the more complex scotches that I can remember trying.  So many have a complexity to them, but they are usually still dominated by a distinct note, whereas this whisky really doesn't have a dominant note and instead is a mashup of flavors that compliment each other extremely well.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this new bottle to my collection, but I'm immediately a huge fan.

Here's hoping the LSU Tigers play as well as this scotch tastes, if so we might be seeing a big upset this afternoon.  Cheers, happy gameday, and GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof / Gnarly Barley's Liger Juicy Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  It's another Friday and that means another featured beer here on Bite And Booze.  I'm going with a local collaboration today, the Liger Juicy Pale Ale which was brewed by Tin Roof and Gnarly Barley to celebrate last week's LSU vs. SELU football matchup.  Tin Roof brews the Bayou Bengal, a licensed LSU beer, and Gnarly Barley out of Hammond brews the Lion Up, a licensed SELU beer, so it only made sense for the two to combine forces for a Rivalry Edition beer.  

I'm a huge fan of local breweries collaborating together on beers like this, as well as local breweries collaborating with regional and national breweries.  It's a great way to get new ideas, new beers, and new exposure for these craft breweries that support a lot of local jobs.  This beer sold out quickly in cans at the brewery last weekend, but as of Wednesday night there was still plenty on tap, and they were selling crowlers of it to go.  So, as I'm an LSU fan, I grabbed a Tin Roof glass and gave the beer a try...

Tin Roof / Gnarly Barley's Liger Juicy Pale Ale

The first thing that hit me is the hop aroma as soon as I popped the can, citrus flavors dominate due to the galaxy, citra, and mosaic hops used.  The color is a pale yellow, not quite orange juice color, but hazy and vibrant.  The aroma out of the glass is more of the same, strong citrus hop flavors which invite me in for a sip.  On the tongue the hops continue their dominance, with a medium body and a minimal malt presence.  This is basically a toned down pale ale version of a "juicy" NEIPA and they nail it.  At 5.5% but bursting with hop flavor, this would be a great game day beer or perfect for breaking out after mowing the lawn, which is exactly what I in the picture above!

Here's hoping this makes it into the regular rotation for either Tin Roof or Gnarly Barley, I know I'd drink plenty more if it was readily available.  In the meantime, hit up the Tin Roof taproom and grab a crowler or two for the weekend.  Cheers! 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Ole Smoky Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans and welcome to an undefeated week 2 and a huge jump in the polls following an ass whipping of Miami.  I'll admit, I didn't see that coming, I expected a good game and wouldn't have been shocked with a win or a loss, but going out to a 30-point lead on a top 10 team was unforeseen.  So I guess the question really is, was Miami overrated, was LSU underrated, or was it some combination of both?  I'm not a genius prognosticator, but with Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU) coming into Tiger Stadium this week, I feel like 2-0 is a strong possibility.  On a side note, Baton Rouge's Tin Roof Brewing and Hammond's Gnarly Barley Brewing put out a collaboration brew to commemorate the meeting of the two teams.  Tin Roof brews an official LSU licensed beer, and Gnarly Barley brews one licensed by SELU, so the collaboration makes perfect sense.  Look for that one out now and coming soon as a Feature Beer Friday?

Back to the wakey whiskey (#wakeywhiskey) though... last weekend I was in Knoxville for the game, and of course I hit up a local liquor store to buy a few local bottles.  I had already picked up a few directly from Postmodern Spirits in Knoxville proper, but I saw this bottle from Gatlinburg that caught my eye.  It's the Ole Smoky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the term "straight" means that in addition to all the qualifications for a bourbon, this one has been aged for at least two years. Ole Smoky primarily makes mooonshine, although more of the flavored variety as opposed to the illegal variety, but they also produce some flavored whiskeys and a few unflavored bourbons.   

Ole Smoky Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Now, the whiskey itself, because that's the important part, right?  The color is a little darker than caramel with a bit of an orange hint to it.  The smell is fairly muted, with hints of vanilla and oak but nothing too overpowering. The taste is a little on the harsh side at first, but once it settles down the typical bourbon flavors come out like corn sweetness, a bit of a mineral quality, a little vanilla, and the oak char comes out even stronger.  After a few sips neat to work out the palate, I added an ice sphere to see what opens up, and found first that the oak flavors on the aroma come through stronger than before.  On the tongue the initial harsh notes are reduced and then the whiskey flavors emerge with vanilla on the strong side.  I feel like this one benefits from the ice to open up the flavors.  

Not a bad pour, not the best I've ever had, but I'm all about trying new whiskeys and this one definitely has a place on my shelf.  Now, time for LSU to get to work and make it a 2-0 start.  Geaux Tigers!  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Pretentious Brewing IPA Flight

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  I recently returned to Baton Rouge from a long weekend trip to Knoxville, TN with Mandi and Brooks, and definitely took the opportunity to check out a handful of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, and even a distillery that will be featured on an upcoming Wakey Whiskey post.   Knoxville, for being about the same size metro area as Baton Rouge, is killing us in the craft beer department, and we only made it to about half of the breweries in the area.  One of the best that we did get to try, my favorite was Pretentious Beer Company in the Old City neighborhood just to the North of downtown.  

Upon arrival I was impressed to see an array of beers on tap including multiple NEIPAs, so a flight was in order.  After careful consideration I opted for the #trendyAF, Waka Flocca Flame, Floc The Line, and the #supertrendyAF.  

A flight of NEIPAs at Pretentious Beer Co. 

All four of my selections are variants of NEIPA, with the "Floc" names being a play on the term flocculation, which is the suspension of the yeast in the beer that contributes to the haziness of the unfiltered NEIPA style.  Even though I wrotet hem down in one order, the bartender recommended a drinking order for me which happened to be the exact reverse of my selections, so I took her suggestion and started drinking right to left.  

Up first, the #trendyAF, which is a milkshake NEIPA (typically indicating the inclusion of lactose) with mosaic hops and pomegranate.  A deliciously hoppy and smooth beer, and the flight was off to a great start.  Up next was the Waka Flocca Flame, 7.1% and triple dry hopped with mosaic, giving a dank slightly onion-y bitterness.  Third on the lineup was the Floc The Line, 6.4% and triple dry hopped with galaxy, mosaic, and citra cryo hops, giving it a much more balanced and complex hop character than the Waka Flocca Flame.  Last up is the #supertrendyAF, which obviously is a variant of their #trendyAF milkshake NEIPA.  This variant features blood orange and vanilla, and is described as "taking creamsicle to the next level."  I found it a little on the sweet side, but also bitter and delicious, and it really reminded me (in a humbling way) of the Peach Hoppler Milkshake IPA that my team put together for the canceled Iron Brewer event.  We used peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla, and the sweet flavors worked extremely well with the hops, just like they do in this #supertrendyAF from Pretentious Beer Co.  

In the end I left extremely impressed, and I didn't even get past the NEIPA list before it was time to make our way to the next stop.  Next time you get the chance to swing through Knoxville, make this a stop on your tour, you won't be disappointed!